What if you could get a community gathered around a single book? That's the idea behind The Big Read.
The kickoff for the program took place Wednesday on Court Square in Harrisonburg with readings, free food and free copies of the book "To Kill a Mockingbird."
Several speakers read excerpts from the pivotal 1960 work written by Harper Lee. Shenandoah resident Mary Rouse says the event brought out a variety of people.
She says, "It's a unique cross section of the community that was gathered here today. From the District Attorney, our Delegate, to people in blue collar work clothes, retired people."
You can pick up a free copy of "To Kill a Mockingbird" while they last at any of the nine branches of the Massanutten Regional Library.
The Big Read is an effort to get people reading again, and Harrisonburg is one of 117 communities nationwide selected for the program.
Mary Golden-Hughes, Massanutten Regional Library, says, "'To Kill A Mockingbird' has great name-recognition. Most folks are familiar with the book, perhaps they've seen the movie. But beyond that we chose this book because of its themes of tolerance, injustice and coming of age. They're just as relevant today as they were when the book was written 40 years ago. We thought it was a book that people could gather around and enjoy reading."
The Big Read includes many events and lasts for five weeks.